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New Zealand Falls Silent to Honor Victims of Worst-Ever Massacre

Matthew Brockett
New Zealand Falls Silent to Honor Victims of Worst-Ever Massacre

(Bloomberg) -- Radio and television stations across New Zealand broadcast the Muslim call to prayer followed by two minutes of silence as the nation stopped to honor the 50 people killed and more than 40 wounded in last week’s mosque attacks.

In the South Island city of Christchurch, thousands of people gathered in Hagley Park, opposite one of two mosques that a lone Australian gunman attacked last Friday. Across the nation, thousands more massed outside mosques to show solidarity with worshippers as they arrived to pray.

In capital city Wellington, bustling cafes and streets came to a standstill at 1:32 p.m. local time as people observed the two-minute silence. Some women wore headscarves to show support for the Muslim community, something Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has done and been widely praised for in the aftermath of the worst massacre in New Zealand’s modern history.

“New Zealand mourns with you,” said Ardern, who was among those who congregated in a park opposite the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, the scene of the first attack. “We are one.”

Addressing the crowd, Imam Gamal Fouda thanked people for their support, saying the overwhelming show of solidarity demonstrated that New Zealand was “unbreakable.”

"We are broken-hearted, but we are not broken,” he said in an address punctuated by loud applause. “We are alive. We are together. We are determined to not let anyone divide us.”

On March 15, a man wielding modified semi-automatics opened fire in a Christchurch mosque during afternoon prayers, killing more than 40 people as he filmed and live-streamed the attack to social media. He then drove to a second mosque and continued the rampage. A 28-year-old Australian was arrested and charged with murder.

The government yesterday banned military style semi-automatics and assault rifles and said it will establish a nationwide buyback of the weapons, with further changes to gun laws to be made in coming months.

(Updates with observation of two-minute silence.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Brockett in Wellington at mbrockett1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Matthew Brockett at mbrockett1@bloomberg.net, Edward Johnson

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